What is IRS Publication 517?

IRS Publication 517 Social Security And Other Information For Members Of The Clergy & Religious Workers delineates and updates the Social Security and income tax rules each year for members of the clergy and other religious workers.

Understanding IRS Publication 517

IRS Publication 517 Social Security And Other Information For Members Of The Clergy & Religious Workers is a document published each year by the Internal Revenue Service detailing the ways clergy members and other religious workers are required to file their Social Security and Medicare taxes.

These two types of taxes are collected through either the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) system or the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) system. IRS Publication 517 helps to determine which forms of income are subject to SECA and which are subject to FICA rules.

As of 2017, under SECA, the self-employed individual qualifying for this category is responsible for paying all of their own taxes. Under FICA, the employer and the employee are each responsible for half of the Social Security and the Medicare systems. All clergy or religious workers will be subject to one of these systems, but not both.

In addition, as of 2017, wages and self-employment income for clergy and religious workers are also usually subject to a Medicare tax, which is determined with the use of From 8959.

Who is affected by IRS Publication 517?

Ministerial services, in general, are the services performed in the exercise of a ministry, in duties required by a religious order, or in the exercise of a professional Christian Science practitioner or reader.

IRS Publication 517 Social Security And Other Information For Members Of The Clergy & Religious Workers affects several ministerial categories. Ministerial services, in general, are the services performed in the exercise of a ministry, the duties required by a religious order, or the duties of a professional Christian Science practitioner or reader.

  • Ministers. These individuals are typically covered under SECA, so long as they do not have an approved IRS exemption. These ministerial earnings are exempt under FICA.
  • Members of a religious order who have not taken a vow of poverty. These individuals are typically covered under SECA, so long as they do not have an approved IRS exemption. These ministerial earnings are exempt under FICA.
  • Members of a religious order who have taken a vow of poverty. These individuals are typically covered under FICA if the order has elected for FICA coverage, and the individual worked outside of the order but was not required to do so. . These ministerial earnings are exempt under SECA.
  • Religious workers, or church employees. These individuals can be covered under either FICA or SECA, depending on which category the employer elects to follow.
  • Members of a recognized religious sect. These individuals can be covered under FICA if they are an employee without an approved exemption from the IRS, or under SECA if if they are self-employed and do not have an approved exemption from the IRS.
  • Christian Scientist practitioners or readers. These individuals are typically covered under SECA if they do not have an approved exemption from the IRS. These ministerial earnings are exempt under FICA.

Current Year Requirements

As with many IRS documents, various stipulations change from year to year, so it is imperative that all those affected by the section of the tax code refer to the latest version.